If you started daydreaming about exploring Canada during the pandemic, you’re not alone. I love globe‑trotting, of course, but I’ve found myself taking another look at the varied and thrilling destinations on offer right here at home and I have decided: There’s nowhere I’d rather be. From catching a glimpse of the unbelievable wildlife in B.C. to enjoying a tasting tour of Île d’Orléans, the culinary island in Quebec, Canada has a must‑see experience for every style of traveller. Here are four of my favourites.
Air Canada enRoute x Destination Canada
Adventurous Things to Do in Canada
Four must‑try experiences across Canada.
Vancouver Island, B.C.
See marine animals in their natural habitat
The Salish Sea, an 18,000‑square‑kilometre body of water that stretches from B.C. to Washington State, is one of the most diverse ecosystems in North America. A habitat for a bevy of marine wildlife, including humpback and grey whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions, the region – named after its original inhabitants, the Coast Salish peoples – is the perfect place to take a nature lover or budding marine biologist. In Victoria, check out Orca Spirit Adventures, which regularly runs carbon‑neutral tours in the Juan de Fuca and Haro straits. Or drive 30 minutes outside the city to the town of Sidney. Sidney Whale Watching, an Indigenous‑owned family business that has organized boat tours for more than 20 years, says guests have a 95 percent chance of spotting a whale on their outings, thanks to the town’s location close to the marine animals’ preferred feeding grounds.
Quebec City, Que.
Taste your way through Île d’Orléans
Île d’Orléans, a 33‑kilometre‑long island set in the St. Lawrence River, just east of downtown Quebec City, has long been regarded as an agritourism hot spot thanks to its excellent wine, high‑quality produce, delicious dishes and skilled artisans. It’s the ideal destination for a self‑guided wander, with plenty to do, see and (most importantly) eat year‑round — don’t miss the sugar shacks in spring, top‑notch produce in summer and fine wine all year round. Or sign up for Quebec Bus Tour’s guided tour to experience the island’s greatest offerings. One highlight is Vignoble du Mitan, a vineyard that sits on farmland that has been in the Turcotte family since the 17th century. Visitors are welcomed onto the vineyard’s terrace, where they can sip white, red, rosé or icewine while taking in views of the river. Other stops on the tour include the Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau, where the Bilodeau family makes award‑winning cider, iced cider and sparkling cider from fruit grown at their Saint‑Pierre orchard, as well as Chocolaterie de l’Île d’Orléans, which offers homemade bonbons and ice cream made from Belgian chocolate, and Cassis Monna & Filles for a variety of products crafted from local blackcurrants.
Get your rafting adventure on in Ottawa
Usually, when you think of rafting down high‑speed rapids, you picture rushing rivers that cut through lush wilderness. Not so at Ottawa City Rafting. This urban rafting experience offers visitors a unique way to see the nation’s capital – from a raft on the Ottawa River. The three‑hour tour is hosted by Ottawa City Rafting and starts in the city’s west end at Britannia Beach, where a guide will help you practise controlling their rafts. From there, it’s a thrilling ride through Deschênes, Remic and Petite‑Chaudière rapids, with stops for swimming, bodysurfing and even refreshments. Keep an eye out for Parliament Hill, which will slowly come into view as you paddle along the river.
St. John's, N.L.
Enjoy art in Quidi Vidi
Located in the east end of St. John’s not far from Signal Hill, this charming neighbourhood has everything you would ever want from a Newfoundland fishing village. Think colourful fishing stages perched along the wharf, historic buildings and a few surprises, including the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, a craft‑focused incubator with 10 studio spaces that are rented out to emerging Newfoundland‑based artisans – stained‑glass workers, quilters, ceramicists and printmakers – on a rotating basis. Admission to the space is free, which means guests can explore the studios at will, getting a glimpse of each artisan’s creative process, not to mention picking up a souvenir or two from among the artisans’ wares. (If contemporary art is more your speed, head downtown to check out Christina Parker Gallery or the artist‑run Eastern Edge Gallery to see recent works by locals.) There are also plenty of great food and drink options like Quidi Vidi Brewery, which occupies a former fish plant and serves excellent local craft beer, and Mallard Cottage, an award‑winning restaurant featuring fresh island ingredients in a cozy atmosphere that blends casual comfort with fine dining.